The University of Massachusetts Amherst

David Cort and Kathy Forde named SBS Associate Deans for Equity and Inclusion

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The UMass Amherst College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) has appointed David Cort, associate professor of sociology, and Kathy Roberts Forde, associate professor of journalism, to the positions of SBS Associate Deans for Equity and Inclusion.

"We’re in a period where significant change can and should take place, and we welcome David and Kathy’s leadership and perspectives.” 

 - Dean John A. Hird

Upon commencing their two-year terms in September 2020, Cort and Forde will oversee efforts to create an inclusive and accepting campus and college climate, and provide access and opportunities for all people, while strengthening the college’s commitment to representation and inclusion of historically underrepresented groups. The associate deans will hold key positions in the college’s leadership team affirming its commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. They will also partner with other leaders in the college and across campus to help students and the SBS community make sustainable change.

“We are dealing with significant challenges – in the College, throughout the University, and of course well beyond the campus – that require sustained attention and actions on the part of everyone involved,” said SBS Dean John A. Hird. “David and Kathy provide outstanding leadership, and I look forward to working with them and others throughout the University as we promote racial justice and help the College advance its goals of an inclusive and equitable educational and work environment."

David Cort is associate professor of sociology

David Cort is associate professor of sociology with research interests in race/ethnicity, immigration, social stratification, social demography, social epidemiology, and quantitative methods. As a 2018 Fulbright Fellow (South Africa), Cort has conducted research on how expressions of HIV stigma beliefs affect precautionary sexual behaviors and HIV prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa.

This interdisciplinary project draws on ideas from social psychology, public health, and sociology and has implications for the study of race and ethnicity as access to HIV treatment and the prevention of HIV infection are scarce resources that accrue unequally to racial, ethnic, and social status groups across the African continent.

“Supporting equity and inclusion is noble and good work. I have benefitted from people who dedicated their lives to those goals,” Cort said. “I now have the opportunity to ‘pay it forward’ by working with SBS in those endeavors. This is now my calling.”

Kathy Roberts Forde, associate professor of journalism

Kathy Roberts Forde is associate professor of journalism and an American journalism historian with research interests in the First Amendment, democracy and the public sphere, the African American freedom struggle, literary journalism, and the history of the book and print culture. She served as Chair of the UMass journalism department from 2014-2017 and Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow in the Office of Equity & Inclusion from 2018-2019. 

Forde is the co-editor of Journalism and Jim Crow: The Press and the Making of White Supremacy in the New South, to be published in spring 2021. This book documents the active role of white newspaper publishers and editors in building and sustaining white supremacist political economies and social orders across the South from 1880-1920.

“It’s easy enough to embrace the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. But it’s hard collective work to create policies and practices—the necessary structures—that translate these values into meaningful action,” Forde said. “I’m so grateful to have David as my partner in this work and to be part of such a committed college leadership team.”